Casinos have an air of mystery about them which inspires fear, awe, and amazement. It’s no wonder that so many spy thrillers and crime movies feature casinos.
When I was growing up one of my favorite movies was Casablanca starring Humphrey Bogart. He played an American ex-pat living in the Moroccan city of Casablanca during World War II. Bogart’s character Rick owned a night club which had a hidden casino in the back room.
The movie plays up some of the most popular fears people have about casinos—a roulette game is rigged, the local police are on the take, and the casino throws out a patron who wins too much.
James Bond may be the only major movie character to ever walk into a casino that isn’t run by the mob, cheating its patrons, or throwing people out. So, it makes sense that people wonder what casinos will put up with and how much. We see evidence in movies and television that something isn’t right with casinos.
So, here comes the ultimate question, do casinos care if you win?
Why Would Casinos Want to Kick out Winners?
This urban legend is rooted in the belief that casinos are so greedy they will do whatever they have to in order to make money. It’s true, there are crooked casinos all over the world. These are the underground joints that operate outside the law.
Illegal casinos are more likely to target vulnerable people who are easily addicted to gambling. But even among such low-end business strategies, the casinos need one thing that every helps every business— word-of-mouth advertising.
The games are already designed to be profitable. Casinos don’t need to cheat its players. While cheating happens in illegal casinos, the gambling companies that operate inside the law have no need to cheat.
Every honest winner is free advertising for a casino. Hence, there is no reason to ask a winner to leave.
But Casinos Ban Known Successful Card Counters
It’s fair to say that casinos only want to entertain people who play fairly by the casino’s standards. They don’t mind if you count cards because most card counters are not very successful.
The people who find themselves banned are so consistently good at beating the games that the casinos feel the need to take action.
If you can consistently win money making $500 bets, then what’s to stop you from moving up into the ranks of the high rollers? Casinos count on a statistical percentage of players losing their money. While card counting isn’t illegal, when done right, it changes the house’s business model.
The casino won’t ask you to repay any money if you aren’t cheating, but they err on the side of caution when deciding whether to allow you to play their games.
Casinos Often Memorialize Big Winners
I’ve walked into many casinos where large photos of big winners were prominently displayed near the entrances. Casinos treat these jackpot winners as badges of honor.
It’s hard to understand why people are afraid casinos will ask them to leave. Everything the casino does is designed to bring you through the door and keep you there.
They create an inviting atmosphere, offer casino comps such as free food and drinks, and don’t complain when you make a mess. Most people should feel more welcome at a casino than at their fussy grandmothers’ homes.
Casinos celebrate winners. They promote the idea of winning. People like to joke about contributing to the house edge, but everyone wants to win when they gamble.
That desire to win is the feeling every casino appeals to. They leverage jackpots to create a happy, positive image for themselves.
You’re Winning Other Players’ Money, Not the House’s Money
The way casino games work, the house is only risking its own money early in a game’s life cycle. When a casino begins offering a new game, they must cover any player wins until they have accumulated enough wins against players to cover the costs of paying new winners.
From that point on, most games remain profitable enough that the casinos can hold back money for themselves. They pay staff and support costs out of those retained winnings and whatever is left over becomes their profits.
If the house is retaining 20% to 40% of player wagers every month, they have no reason to complain or feel worried about who wins big prizes. Every time you and I congratulate someone else for winning in a casino, we’re celebrating the fact we probably just paid them a lot of money.
The casino is the middleman. The money flows through the casino’s fingers, and some of it slips into the casino’s pocket. The casino is a paid financial observer in the universe of gambling transactions.
Players and Casinos Sometimes Disagree on Who Won
Every year, I read new stories about players arguing with casinos over major prizes. These stories are a bit sad, but they’re to be expected.
In 2017, Katrina Bookman thought she had won a huge jackpot, but the casino said the game malfunctioned. News media favored the casino’s argument because the game in question, a slot machine named the Sphinx, only advertised a maximum jackpot of $6,500.
Bookman’s game erroneously awarded her nearly $43 million.
I’ve never played an electronic game in a casino that didn’t have a warning sticker reading, “malfunctions void all pays.” Malfunction warnings are there for a reason. These machines can and sometimes do make mistakes.
The malfunction clauses also protect casinos against fraudulent claims by cheaters. Many people have forced slot machine games to malfunction, hoping for payoffs. Those who are caught doing this are prosecuted and spend time in jail.
And you can believe that casinos ban known cheaters from their premises.
I’ve also seen disagreements among players and online casinos where the players claim they won prizes the casinos refused to pay. This is a murkier area because not every online casino is honest.
Even a dishonest casino should rather have happy players than angry people denouncing them, but the long and growing lists of bad online casinos say that some operators really do prefer to cheat their players.
And yet some of these disputes stem from players’ own attempts to get around the rules. I’ve seen people lose prizes because they used someone else’s credit card to make deposits, refused to provide proper identification, or bypassed online casino’s country-blocking measures.
We naturally want to support other players with complaints, but sometimes, the players really are in the wrong. Casinos may ban those players if they don’t compromise on their complaints or comply with house rules.
Assuming you only play at legal, licensed casinos that comply with the law, you have no reason to expect to be asked to leave or refused service because you win money. Your wins are the best advertising the casino can get. Paying winners don’t cost casinos nearly as much money as most people believe.
By creating safe environments for entertainment, casinos invest in long-term relationships with their communities. They would quickly go out of business if everyone believed you cannot win at the casino. No one would want to play their games.
The occasional disputes between players and casinos surely strengthen the belief that casinos don’t want you to win. But I think film and TV shows that portray casinos as gangster-run businesses intent only on bilking their customers of all their money contribute to this urban myth too.
If the casinos banned winners, they would gradually winnow down their clientele until no one was left.
Most people eventually win something at the casino. You won’t be able to support yourself on your winnings, but you’ll have a nice story to tell friends and family. And that’s what the casino wants you to do.
The more people hear about big winners at any casino, the more people will head to that casino to try their own luck.
Winners help casinos bring in more customers. I’m sure casinos care about the positive effects of paying winners. I’ve never been asked to leave because I won a few thousand dollars.
There is no limit to how much you can win at a casino.